Experimenting with Longarm Quilting

Over the years, I have dabbled in piecing and quilting. I completed several small projects (wall hangings, table runners, etc. on my domestic machine) before deciding to invest in a small longarm. I purchased a BlockRockit 15″ machine several years ago. I used it on a Bernina 5′ frame and it worked nicely to again complete small projects (wall hangings, table runners, etc.). I also used it to quilt fabric and foam for bags and totes. You can see a video of that process here:

That set up was great for small projects, but I was limited in the size of quilt I could manage on that frame. So a few months ago I invested in this 10′ Continuum frame from Grace Company:

I purchased the frame through Leah Day’s Website. I live about 40 miles from the Grace Company, but it was less expensive for me to purchase it through Leah Day and have it shipped to my home, that it would have been to purchase it locally and pick it up at the warehouse. I ordered the frame on a Friday and it was delivered the following Tuesday!

I love not being so limited in the size of quilt I can sew. But first, to familiarize myself with the new set up and to practice using my new frame, I quilted this small wall hanging. It is a printed quilt panel, so no piecing (other than the borders) was involved.

I still consider myself a beginning quilter, so please don’t judge me too harshly. 😊 I stitched an all over swirl on the background, I outlined the truck then added vertical straight line quilting to the body of the truck, and I added jagged line quilting to the tree to mimic pine needles. It was a great learning process.

I used white batting because that is what I had on hand and it worked out okay, except there was a bit of batting show through on the back where the needle pierced the fabric:

I’m okay with the batting show through, since this will be hanging on a wall, and it was, after all, a practice project. But in the future, I will be certain to use dark batting with dark fabrics.

I have since completed a queen size quilt top and plan to load it onto the machine later this month.

I would love to hear your quilting experiences (domestic and longarm). Please leave me a comment below.

Until next time, keep sewing my friends!

How To: Five Easy Steps to Sewing with Patterns By Annie

If you are new to sewing a bag, tote, or organizer
getting started may seem a bit daunting.
Most of the patterns do not include actual pattern pieces.
That’s because the components are pretty much rectangles
or squares with rounded corners.
So the getting started instructions may seem extensive and intimidating.
If you look at the By Annie patterns with the following five steps in mind,
the process will come together much easier:

                                                                    1.  Gather
                                                                    2.  Quilt
                                                                    3.  Cut
                                                                    4.  Construct
                                                                    5.  Assemble

1.  Gather all your supplies as indicated on the back of the pattern and read through all the instructions before you start cutting.  Each pattern includes a back page that lists all the supplies you will need.

2.  Quilt your main fabric, Soft and Stable, and lining.  If you do this on your domestic machine, follow the cutting instructions before layering your fabrics and Soft and Stable for quilting.
If you are quilting your layers on a longarm machine, then do not cut the main fabric, Soft and Stable, and lining until after the quilting is completed.  **Instructions for each method are in the pattern**

3.  Cut all your pieces (including your quilted fabrics) as instructed.

4.  Construct all the components for your project.

5.  Assemble your components as instructed.

I have sewn a number of patterns By Annie and all of them have followed these five steps.  When I break down the process by thinking of it in five steps, the project seems less overwhelming.  I like to set my goals according to these steps.  For instance:  Day 1 Gather: Day 2 Quilt: Day 3 Cut: Day 4 (and maybe day 5 if there are lots of components) Construct; and Day 5 (and/or 6) Assemble.

So if you’ve had your eye on one of those great patterns By Annie (or if you already have one), but have been a bit intimidated at the process, I hope this gives you the confidence to get started on your own bag, tote, or organizer.

I’ll be back in a few days with my completed Running with Scissors organizer.

Have a terrific weekend.

Round Trip Duffle Bag

If you, or somebody you know, needs a BIG duffle
this is the pattern for you!
It is the Round Trip Duffle pattern from Patterns by Annie.
The finished measurements are 12″H x 19.5″W x 7.5″D

The pattern suggests quilting your main fabric, Soft and Stable, and lining fabric
together on a long arm (if you have access to one) before you cut your pattern pieces.
I used a groovy board and quilted mine with my Block Rockit.

When you cut your pattern pieces, be certain to use the little labels that are included.
They help keep all your pattern pieces identified
and they will make your sewing life sew much easier!

There is a nice size slip pocket at each end of the duffle.
That’s also where you will add a triangle ring or a D-ring and a swivel snap hook
to attach your shoulder strap.

The shoulder strap also features a slider so you can adjust the length according
to your needs.  To protect your shoulder, the metal slider slips into the
comfortable, padded cover that is part of your shoulder strap.
You also have the option of using the handy carry straps that are attached to each
side of the duffle using rectangle rings.
And when you need to be hands and shoulder free,
you can secure your duffle to your rolling luggage with the handy trolley sleeve
that is sewn to one side of the duffle.

There is a large mesh zipper pocket on one side of the interior,
and handy slip pockets on the opposite side of the interior.
The bottom of the bag is supported by a piece of acrylic, cut to size, that is covered
with a sleeve (an acrylic support pillow case, if you will).
To help keep the bottom exterior of my duffle clean and to help reduce wear,
I added four feet to the underside.
The pattern does not give instructions to do this,
but that is how I prefer to finish a bag this size.
It is easy to add this step, but be certain to do it before
attaching the bottom of the bag to the sides of the bag:
On the exterior of the bag bottom,
mark the desired location of your bag feet (I used four)
If your machine has an eyelet stitch, that’s the one to use for this technique.
It looks like the above stitch #62 on my Bernina.
If your sewing machine doesn’t have this stitch, that’s okay!
Simply draw circles (approx. 1/4″ to 3/8″ circumference) on the exterior bottom of your bag.
Then use a small zig zag stitch or a triple straight stitch to sew around your marked circles.
Now it’s time to clip the circle open.
The easiest way to do this is to fold the bag bottom in half right through the middle of the eyelet,
snip it open with the tip of your scissors – DON’T SNIP THROUGH YOUR STITCHING
Then fold the bag bottom in half the other way and snip so you make an “X” opening.
At this point it is good to add a little seam sealant to the clipped edges.
This is the lining side of my duffle bag bottom.
Insert the prongs of your bag feet so the prongs are on the lining side.
You can add a drop of fabric glue (this one is my favorite)
The prongs will not show on the lining side because your acrylic support will cover them.
Here’s a video to give you a closer look at this great pattern:
It’s not a quick sew, but I think you will be very pleased with the results
if you give this pattern a try.
Thanks for reading my blog, I appreciate all my readers so very much.